Posted on Mar 06, 2019, 6 p.m.
Many don’t hesitate to think twice when they go for any recommended medical testing, but facts are that some diagnostic and follow-up imaging scans can be detrimental to health, especially if radiation is involved.
Computerized tomography scans are one such diagnostic imaging protocol as it blasts ionizing radiation into the body that can significantly increase risks of developing cancer later in life. In 2013 a study published in the British Medical Journal found a single CT scan to be associated with a 24% overall increase in cancer incidence. The percentage dropped slightly the more years that go by following the scan; but the reverse is also true: the more scans a person receives the greater the risks of cancer emerging later, effects are even greater when scanned at younger ages.
Computerized tomography scans are more so of a threat than X-rays which has to do with the way the radiation is delivered; rather than a capture of a two dimensional plot of the inside of a body these scans collect a series of images that are then compiled onto a 3D image matrix. The image produced enables greater insights into presence of possible health abnormalities, however the process emits significantly higher levels of damaging radiation which could potentially lead to some of the outcomes it is meant to detect.
The exposure during a scan is so high that a single scan compares to about 10 times your natural exposure. The average person is exposed to about 3 milli-Sieverts of background radiation a year; a single head scan exposes a person to about 2 mSv. When it is a full abdominal scan this amount increases dramatically, exposing a person to 30 mSv which is close to 10 times the amount of a full year’s worth of background radiation.
Radiation exposure between 5-25 mSv are considered to be statistically significant due to the increase of cancer risk. Those known to have malignant growths are typically exposed to even higher radiation levels due to the frequency of scans for diagnostic and follow up purposes.
Research from Harvard University suggests that women should be especially careful in regards to CT scan as the chest is one of the areas where CT related cancers are most likely to occur, along with the pelvis and abdomen. There is a 1 in 2,000 chance that a person will develop cancer from a single abdominal scan, according to researchers from Harvard Medical School.
Many alternative practitioners are opting to use thermography or Digital Infrared Thermographic Imaging for patient testing as it uses heat signatures rather than radiation to look for the presence of anomalies inside the body that could be indicative of disease.
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